Social and Behavioral Influences on Decision-making by Emergency Managers

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Wednesday, 7 January 2015: 11:00 AM
221A-C (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Burrell E. Montz, East Carolina Univ., Greenville, NC; and K. Galluppi, J. L. Losego, J. Correia Jr., and R. E. Riley
Manuscript (197.4 kB)

Decision-making under the stress of impending severe weather is complex, uncertain and often results in unpredictable outcomes. The ability to characterize and synthesize risk into emergency management (EM) processes is dependent on the knowledge of science experts successfully communicating with a dynamic community of emergency managers. It is an objective of the Weather Ready Nation to understand the human dynamics and not just the weather science, and a focus of this project is to integrate the social and physical sciences. Our team from Arizona State University, East Carolina University, the University of North Carolina, and the University of Oklahoma has been exploring the major influences on EM decisions in complex social networks. Through interviews, focus groups, and surveys, the team has identified numerous influences that can manifest themselves as a disruption of the risk connections. In addition, we were able to identify the most critical influences on the weather related decisions of EMs. Among the most important of those influences is confidence, which is manifested in various ways. We are particularly interested in the influences on the confidence of EMs to make decisions. This is built, in part, on the confidence exuded by the forecasters, but that is not the only factor. So, too, are training, experience, and timing of information and trust in the sources of information, to name a few. The importance of these and other influences on confidence were tested through surveys and interviews, with the ultimate goal of assisting forecasters to accentuate the positive influences they have on emergency management decision-making. Among other findings to date is the fact that most emergency managers see their role as one of passing information, which they often filter, on to others. Questions that are being investigated stemming from this are how and why are they filtering, the extent to which they have the knowledge to do this, and whether or not information in a different form (giving them only what they send along) could save time and perhaps reduce misinformation going forward.